Ombud dismisses raps vs La Castellana mayor

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014


THE Office of the Ombudsman Visayas dismissed for lack of merit the criminal and administrative complaints filed against La Castellana Mayor Alberto Nicor and four municipal department heads.

Vice Mayor Felix Feria IV and five councilors filed the complaints in January 2013.

La Castellana Mayor Alberto Nicor said in a press conference at the town’s municipal hall yesterday that the dismissal of the case is a vindication on his part and his fellow respondents.

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Also cleared with were Municipal Council Secretary Patricio Estoya Jr., Budget Officer Joselita Ordaniel, Municipal Treasurer Jacinto Potato, and Municipal Accountant Joselette Borromeo.

The 12-page joint resolution approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on February 14, 2014 dismissed the complaints for falsification of public documents, violation of Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act, and dishonesty filed against the five respondents.
Feria and the five councilors complained of the alleged irregularity in the appropriation ordinance of P3.8 million intended for the cash gifts of the municipal employees.

Nicor signed the appropriation on December 31,2012, and the document was forwarded to Feria for his signature.

The complainants, however, said there was no special session held on that day hence, the minutes prepared and duly certified as correct by respondent is a falsified document.

They added that the respondents made it appear that there was sufficient money for the municipal government to fund the grant of cash gifts to employees by issuing Statement of Supplemental Appropriation, Certificate of Availability of Funds and Statement of Funding Sources in order to support the availability of funds to justify the passage of the appropriation ordinance.

Nicor, in his counter-affidavit, said he verified the sources of funds first with the Municipal Budget Office, and it was verified that there was a 2011 surplus amounting to P6.204 million which could cover the needed amount of P3.867 million.

He added that the complainants did not sign the minutes of the special session on December 31, 2012 despite being present in the session.

Nicor said the complaint filed against him was politically-motivated.

The appropriation for cash gifts was the issue discussed in the special session, he added.

In its resolution, the Ombudsman stated that “the fact that respondent Nicor signed the appropriation ordinance, which was passed during the special session, ahead of complainant Feria doesn’t make the document as falsified even if this practice may not be proper.”

“Further, while it may be true that respondent Nicor persuaded the SB members to pass the appropriation ordinance, however, it does not affect the veracity of the document,” it added.

The Ombudsman said that it must be proven that the public officer or employee had taken advantage of his official position in making the falsification.

“There was no evidence showing that the passing of appropriation ordinance constitutes a criminal act. It is, thus, clear that respondents did not violate Section 3(a) of RA 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Practices Act, as amended,” it further said.

“It is therefore clearly established that respondents, who didn’t falsify the appropriation ordinance and the corresponding minutes of the special session, did not commit dishonesty,” the Ombudsman resolution added.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 02, 2014.

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